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How overbearing parents prevented kids from playing video games in 1989

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A photograph of a Master Lock that prevents children from playing video games until a parent enters the secret combination is circulating the internet, landing on the site where all oddities wind up, Reddit.

But more interesting than the image itself is the bizarre details that surrounded Safe Care's Homework First.

The lock, a steel U-shape that calls to mind the steering wheel club, impedes a game cartridge from being loaded into the system, and was designed to prevent "Nintendonitis," according to a 1989 blurb in Entertainment Weekly. "Safe Care president Tom Lowe invented the $15.95 device," says the EW report, "after hearing that a friend's 14-year-old son stayed up all night playing Nintendo instead of studying for finals. Homework First has received endorsements from a pediatrician and the Council for Children's Television and Media."

Nintendo balked at Lowe's idea, but Lowe claimed to have sold 25,000 of the doodads without the company's support through toy stores and a 1-800 phone number.

Other reports price the device, developed in Dundee, IL, between $19.95-$21.95, and claim it could be purchased at Kay Bee Toys, Wal-Mart and, of course, Sharper Image.

Did this actually work? Let's thought exercise it. You're a smart child with knack for problem-solving from years spent playing video games. What stands between you and your favorite hobby is this dopey metal bar. What do you do?

Homework First